What companies can learn about succession planning from the Royal Family

succession planning

Succession planning within companies is a vital part of organisational development. Identifying potential and emerging leaders within a business, and developing them so they can step into future leadership roles, is the key to effective succession planning.

In order to ensure that an organisation always has a supply of potential successors in its talent pool, it is vital to consider the company’s future needs and the talents and aspirations of individual employees. Developing leadership talent is a long term investment and one that requires a great deal of thought and planning. (See our guide to developing high potential employees in the second issue of Enhance.)

Effective succession planning increases the retention of talented employees because they recognise that time, resources and money are being invested in their career development. Rewarding talented employees and giving them the skills to climb the career ladder instils a sense of loyalty and commitment from them and discourages them from looking elsewhere for a job.

The recent birth of the Royal baby has highlighted the effectiveness of the Royal Family when it comes to succession planning. They now have three successors to the throne over three generations. Currently Prince Charles is heir to the throne and will take the over if Queen Elizabeth II abdicates, retires or dies.

If Prince Charles decides to abdicate or if he dies then the throne is passed to the next in line, Prince William. After Prince William, comes his new baby son, Prince George, who is 3rd in line to be King. This is the first time that the British monarchy has had this level of successors in over a century.

Whatever your opinion of the Royal Family, what cannot be denied is that it is a highly successful ‘business’. It operates like a well oiled machine and brings far more revenue into the country through tourism alone than it costs us. What is perhaps more important though is the level of joy and optimism that the country experiences through their happy events – it certainly makes a change from all the usual gloom and doom in the press.

Succession planning is carried out in the Royal Family by training up the future ‘King’ on the job. Prince Charles and Prince William have been groomed for this role practically since birth and, although they were born into the role and had little choice about ‘doing their duty’, this is the level of planning and development that organisations need to be considering when preparing their successors. Obviously, not from birth though!

Chairman of Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann’s Board Services Practice, Oliver Pawle, was recently reported in the ‘The UK Retained Executive Search Industry Report 2012/2013’ as saying:-

 “Succession needs to be thought about as a continuous process and not a solitary event, and appropriate frameworks put in place to ensure that it is handled in a strategic, forward-thinking way.”